Looking at my AWW list, I have at least five other books (beyond this one) that I want to review before I finally wrap up and say goodbye to the chall...moreLooking at my AWW list, I have at least five other books (beyond this one) that I want to review before I finally wrap up and say goodbye to the challenge for 2012 (and get stuck into the 2013 challenge). But I'm going to start at the end with the book I finished this afternoon: Jane Caro's book about Princess Elizabeth, Just a Girl.
Disclaimer number 1: While I really like Jane Caro's public stance on a lot of things, I got into a twitter tiff with her earlier in December, and there were things in the book that reminded me of other attitudes of hers I have issues with. Except where I mention these issues, I've tried very hard to keep my discomfort with the author away from my review of the book.
Disclaimer number 2: I read a fair amount of Historical Fiction, and am pretty much over Princess and Queen Elizabeth I.
It strikes me as a bold move to write ones first novel about a woman so often written about as Princess Elizabeth Tudor. I'll say at the outset that I think this book was better than Alison Weir's travesty of a novel, but not as good as Philippa Gregory's "The Virgin Queen". I haven't yet read Jean Plaidy's Tudor books, so I can't give a comparison there. As I said above, I'm kind of over Elizabeth. She gets written about so often, both in non-fiction and fictional treatments. She has plays and films and I keep reading them (watching them), but to be honest, if this one hadn't been by Jane Caro (who we saw at this year's Write Around the Murray) and if I hadn't needed a quick-ish read to finish off the AWW 2012 challenge, I might not have picked this one up for a lot longer.
It's an interesting structure, all this thinking on the night before Elizabeth's Coronation as Queen. Except for the one element that Caro made up, I know my Elizabeth well enough that nothing is all that new. It just seemed to me that none of the characters lived in the way that they do in Gregory's books - neither Thomas Seymour nor Philip of Spain really seemed all that threatening or skeevey, whereas in Gregory they're that little bit oily. Elizabeth's insecurity next to Jane Grey was an interesting element, and yet Jane was a complete shadow, as was Robin Dudley, sadly. Overall, I wanted it to be better than I felt it was.
One thing kept throwing me out of the story: each time one of Caro's characters - particularly Elizabeth herself - preached religious tolerance. I found it sad that Caro's characters could manage what she has not been able to herself (she's fond of insulting the mere concept of being a person of faith, or certainly it seemed that way at Write Around the Murray and on Twitter,) particularly when I think her depiction of Elizabeth's tolerance was a little broader than it was in reality.
As with another recent read, if Goodreads had half stars, I'd be making use of them here. It would be 3 1/5 stars if it could be, but I just couldn't bring myself to up the level to four.(less)
The thing is, I'd avoided this book because I didn't think the author was black. My thing with the Royal Diaries series is that I will only read them...moreThe thing is, I'd avoided this book because I didn't think the author was black. My thing with the Royal Diaries series is that I will only read them if the author is of the ethnicity of the Royal Princess in question. But then I discovered that Patricia McKissack was African American, and so I was okay to read this book.
There is such strength of character that comes through this book. A beauty in her awesomeness (and strength, and if I repeat strength a lot, it's because that word needs to be part of any mention of this story...) I didn't know about Nzingha before this, but I will know to look for her in African history from now on.
The extra pages of information after the story itself are important. The explanation of how much is known and how much is NOT known is always important in the Royal Diaries books, but this one really was fabulous. I have so much respect for the writers of these books, as there is so much research that needs to be done.(less)
**spoiler alert** When I finished this book, I hugged it because I couldn't hug the characters themselves. And then five days later, when the news cam...more**spoiler alert** When I finished this book, I hugged it because I couldn't hug the characters themselves. And then five days later, when the news came through that the Australian Girl Guides were changing the wording of the promise, I wondered what Henry would think of it.
Dear, dear Henry. And Sophie! And Veronica! And Julia!
This whole series has been brilliant.
I mean, okay. This book is totally in my area of love, and the characters are so brilliant, and I have to say, if they'd just sent Henry to the Chalet School as they should have done, she'd still be alive because they'd never have allowed her to join the WRENS at that point. I almost want to try that out, in fact. (But that'd be admitting to writing fic, wouldn't it?)
I gave my mother "A Brief History of Montmary" a week ago, and she's now demanding the next two books. Which is at it ought to be.
I adored "FitzOsbournes at War", I mean, I really adored it. Part of it is that when I look at the list of references I've read most of them, and other parts of it is that I know this era quite well. And yet it's also that Cooper brought us along, even thought I knew someone was going to die, but made me cry when it was Harry. Made me get to the end of the book and hug the book, because I couldn't hug the characters. Made me adore these people, made me want them to get back their fictitious island, made me hate the Nazi use of Spain even more than I already did, made me want victory for Montmaray while knowing that it didn't even exist.
It was awesome. It needs to be read. I will re-read, over and over again. And I will probably even write fic. No finer accolade exists. Michelle Cooper, you are awesome.(less)
I'm a book behind with this series. My twitter feed has been full of people reviewing the third book (and loving it) so I know that I've got something...moreI'm a book behind with this series. My twitter feed has been full of people reviewing the third book (and loving it) so I know that I've got something good still to come.
I adored the first book (although my Goodreads review might not seem like it, I did give it five stars), and I equally adored the second book. I also got a laugh out of the fact that while reading it, I was wondering whether Cooper had used particular sources, and when I got to the end, yes, she had. :-) There is so much to love in this book: Henry, who is just plain awesome, Simon the mostly stalwart, Veronica the Magnificent, especially when speaking to the Foreign Secretary's Office, and later in her final big scene... I can't wait to see how Colonel Stanley-Ross' character develops in the next book, and I have to admit that if he wasn't already married and ridiculously too old for Sophie, I'd be shipping the two of them right now.
Which brings me to Sophie. The wonderful, strategic, clever, and far too good for the fluffiness of débutante society Sophie. The line I quoted in a status update about feeling like a one-person League of Nations is marvellous, and I can just imagine her, in Geneva, meeting Edith Campbell Berry and the two of them getting along like a house on fire.
I hope I find a reasonably priced copy of FitzOsbournes at War sooner rather than later, because it's a while until the British edition is released, and I don't like the cover of that one nearly as much as the Australian version.(less)
I ADORED THIS. (And the ALLCAPS are entirely legitimate.)
Disclaimer: I hosted Sulari Gentill at the library where I work in the week be...moreWhat can I say?
I ADORED THIS. (And the ALLCAPS are entirely legitimate.)
Disclaimer: I hosted Sulari Gentill at the library where I work in the week before I started reading this. I was blown away by Sulari, and I think she is awesome. I think her book is awesome, I think her characters are awesome.
Between the on-board mystery, the two-stage on-boardness, by the way..., the lashings of history, the increasing fabulousness of Wilfred (and I know you're probably reading this, Sulari, but yes, I'm appreciating Wilfred more every time he shows up). I love Kate *more*, and Ernie, and oh Edna/i>.
But the inclusion of historical figures in this series is stunning. It's so seamless, in that if I didn't know people were real, I'd neither know nor care. They just ARE. And I am so very looking forward to books three and four in this series.
And Sulari, if we can convince you to come back for another visit to our library, we'd love love love to see you again! Book launch, perhaps? (less)
About six months ago, I saw this book on sale, and I almost bought it but didn't. That was a massive mistake. Because, having finally read it via the...moreAbout six months ago, I saw this book on sale, and I almost bought it but didn't. That was a massive mistake. Because, having finally read it via the library... I *love* this book. I adore Rowley and Edna, and I'm so very glad to know that there are at least two more books to come.
As an historical novel, this was brilliant. I own a book about the New Guard and the times (it's called "Defending the National Tuckshop" - isn't that an awesome title?) and the only reason I'm not delving straight into that one right now is that it's written by someone who doesn't fit a challenge criteria (ie, straight white male)). My GF watched Underbelly: Razor last year, and loved it and got really into it. She'll love this book. I loved this book. Gentill is visiting my library later this year, and I'm so looking forward to it.
There is such a good build up of atmosphere; the characters are brilliant - and by the end, even Wilfred is approaching loveable. (Ernie and Kate were loveable from the beginning.)
For a book with a sense of place and sense of time, I don't think you can get past this one. I am so very much looking forward to the next in the Rowland Sinclair series. (less)
Apparently her first, and there were moments that grated (Roger de Clovely?) I rather wonder how she would have written it if she was writing it now,...moreApparently her first, and there were moments that grated (Roger de Clovely?) I rather wonder how she would have written it if she was writing it now, as I know certain aspects would be different.(less)
There are no two ways about it. Heather is simply awesome. Brilliant. Beyond description. Heather is a Girl Guide and a Regency H...moreHeather. Is. Awesome.
There are no two ways about it. Heather is simply awesome. Brilliant. Beyond description. Heather is a Girl Guide and a Regency Heroine bound up in one. Heather is awesome. Intelligent and thoughtful and after she's thought for a while, able to cope with the concept that Timothy Davers isn't actually ridiculous.
It's still a regency romance. It still comes under my personal definition of "trashy trashy romance". And yet it still is readable, the characters loveable, and the thing is, it's just totally Stephanie.
I enjoy Regency Romance. Somehow the historical moment overcomes the sickliness of what can be a contemporary romance. And having said that, it's the modernity of SL's characters that appeals to me: the fact that - like an Austen heroine, they've rarely been entirely on the shelf. They have almost always managed to refuse someone first, before finding their True Love. And the fact that they mange to have sex well before marriage is all about "yay" for the fact that these are liberated ladies who don't belive that a priestly blessing is requried prior to pleasure (to be muted in my comment.)
Anyway. Love the book: looking so very much forward to books two and three.
Possibly one of the most engaging Bastions I've read so far, due to the depth of the mystery on the one hand, and the intransigence of the heroine on...morePossibly one of the most engaging Bastions I've read so far, due to the depth of the mystery on the one hand, and the intransigence of the heroine on the other. I simply adore a heroine who refuses to let the hero coddle her, and in Letitia that's exactly what the reader has. She is awesome, in the true sense of the word. She refuses to let Derne, Dalziel, or any of the Bastion club overrule her, and she is as much a part of solving the puzzle as any of them.
For as much of a puzzle as there is to solve.
Of course, I'm coming at this book from the wrong angle entirely, having already read the book in which Dalziel's true identity is revealed and the traitor hunted to ground. In fact, I read that book quite some time ago. And yet, I still think this one of the most engaging Bastion Club novels of the series.
I have to admit that I really don't tend to expect much of a Laurens: an enjoyable romp, Regency-style balls and accoutrements, and a happy ending.
The Edge of Desire gave me all this, and a frolicking, rolicking mystery as a side dish. Twelve points to Stephanie Laurens!(less)
And so bits of it threw me out of the story - like the description of what seemed like a long walk between the prison and...moreAnd Poppy reaches Beechworth.
And so bits of it threw me out of the story - like the description of what seemed like a long walk between the prison and the Town Hall, when it's actually half a block. (I was in Beechworth on Saturday, I checked. From the post office I could see all the way past the old gaol, the old courthouse, etc, to the walls of the prison.)
But it was a brilliant, awesome ending to the series. As I've said previously, I just love the connection that I have to the places of this series - I would love to be able to get Gabrielle up here to do some library talks. (I know from her blog that she launched "Poppy Comes Home" with a visit to Wahgunyah Primary), but the regional library of which *my* library is a part covers most of the ground for these books. But we had other foci for the Year of Reading, and sadly, the "My Australian Girl" series is too narrowly focused at middle grade girls. But I'd still love to get Gabrielle up here. Along with Alice Pung and a few other people on my wishlist.
I'm so glad I bought all four books in this series. They are a beautiful addition to my personal library as well as to middle grades Australian writing. I don't know that I'll ever buy the other books from My Australian Girl (although to WWI-era ballet student from Perth is tempting), but these have been a jewel of a find. (less)